Lansing, MI: Today, State Representative Abraham Aiyash (D – Hamtramck) introduced HB 4313, the Water Shutoff Protection Act, to permanently protect Michigan residents from water shutoffs and expand efforts to make water more affordable.
“Water shutoff moratoriums are only temporary solutions to the long-term issue of water access and affordability. With the statewide moratorium on water shut-offs ending on March 31st, we need to advocate for permanent solutions to water access beyond the current state of emergency. Access to safe, affordable water is a human right as well as a public health priority.”
House Bill 4313 would do the following:
- Institute water shut-off protections for seniors, families with minor children, individuals with disabilities, and for individuals with life-threatening medical conditions;
- Require providers to establish a policy to allow a customer who is behind on payments to enter into a payment plan, which must be based on a household’s income and ability to pay — for households at or below 200% of the federal poverty line, payments could not exceed 2% of their average household income; and,
- Outlines a notification process a provider would have to follow before being granted the authority to disconnect a customer’s water supply. This notification process would include requirements on informing the customer on how to enroll in a payment plan.
“We support Representative Aiyash’s Water Protection Shut-off Act to enact protections against water shut-offs in the state of Michigan.” said Monica Lewis-Patrick, President and CEO of We The People Detroit. “As we work to ensure that Michiganders are not cut off from water during the pandemic, we must continue to urge lawmakers to create legislation that establishes a permanent plan to address water shut-offs. Our goal is to ensure that all residents of the Great Lakes State have permanent access to clean, safe and affordable water for their protection against infectious diseases at all times, not just during a pandemic.”
From 2014 – 2019 more than 140,000 Detroit households were deprived of their basic human right to clean water due to extreme water shut-off policies and exorbitant increases in water rates. While this crisis is acute in the city of Detroit, access to affordable water is a systemic challenge faced by hundreds of thousands of residents across Michigan. In November, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the People’s Water Board Coalition estimated that 317,000 households statewide, or 800,000 Michiganders, were behind on their water bills and are at imminent risk of having their water shut-off once moratoriums end.
Low-income metro Detroiters are paying almost 10% of their monthly household income on water and sewage bills. This is double the standard that the EPA has set, which reports that residents should not be paying more than 4.5% of their monthly household income on combined water & sewage services.
“It is long overdue that the issue of water shut-offs is addressed on a state level. No one should have to extensively research and jump through bureaucracies to keep their water on. One of the provisions of this legislation would require water utilities to provide the necessary paperwork for any assistance programs with water bills.”